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European Kingdoms

Northern Europe

 

Hallingdal (Norway)
Incorporating the Hallings

FeatureThe birth of the modern Norwegian nation took place following the Viking age, along with the simultaneous arrival of Christianity in Scandinavia and Fennoscandia (see feature link for an examination of the origins of 'Scandinavia' as a name). Before that, the Scandinavians were contained entirely within the southernmost third of Sweden and Norway. Initial settlement and the spread of early kingdoms largely followed the rivers, with inland areas being only sparsely inhabited. The rest was part of a poorly-defined (and poorly understood) territory known as Kvenland, which stretched all the way east into modern Russia. As with early Denmark and Sweden, the rulers of Norway (the Norsemen) emerged from legendary origins, but the royal house that eventually dominated was probably founded by a refugee noble from the kingdom of the Swedes, fleeing his homeland during a period of Danish superiority.

One of the minor kingdoms which was eventually subjugated by the growing power of that early Norwegian royal house was Oppland. It was located in southern-central Norway, largely within the modern county of the same name. One of its districts was Hallingdal (Old Norse 'Haddingjadalr') which was formed by a valley which drained into the River Hallingdal which flows through the modern Viken County. The territory includes a number of smaller administrative centres which are based around villages. The founders of this settlement area would have been the Hallings, the followers of Hall, and their valley the Halling dale.

All of the kings of early Hallingdal are known primarily from early Norse sagas, supplemented by patches of other surviving information. Some of this, such as the writings of Saxo Grammaticus, probably used the sagas as their basis, or at least tried to make sense of some of the more mythological episodes in the sagas. Despite this, the mist around early events can be parted to reveal a list of petty kings of Norway and Sweden, and their various heroic deeds can be pieced together. Most of these kings cannot be pinned down by historical documents or other such reliable methods, so they essentially enjoy a semi-legendary status which probably reflects (and glorifies) a more earthly reality.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Edward Dawson, from Gautreks Saga, from Fridthjófs saga ins frækna, from The Origin and Deeds of the Goths, Jordanes, from The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World, David W Anthony, from The History of the Baltic Countries, Zigmantas Kiaupa, Ain Mäesalu, Ago Pajur, & Gvido Straube (Eds, Estonia 2008), from The Heimskringla: Or, Chronicle of the Kings of Norway, Volume 1, from Glymdrapa, Hornklofe, from Saga: Six Pack 6, A Scandinavian Sextet (various authors), and from External Links: Kvenland (a detailed overview of the existence of Kvenland before it was absorbed into Norway, Sweden, and Finland, although with some content that is of dubious reliability), and Geography, Strabo (H C Hamilton & W Falconer, London, 1903, Perseus Online Edition), and Visit Norway, and Copenhagen University (also available in English).)

fl c.800

Hadding Raumsson

Son of King Raum of Thelemark.

c.800

Raum 'the Old' is father to Hadding Raumsson who becomes king of Hallingdal, perhaps its first king. Another 'son of Raum' who rules another territory - Gudbrandsdal - at the same time is Gudbrand Raumsson. Normally acclaimed as a son of the legendary (mythical?) King Raum of Norway, he could instead be a son of Raum the Old, ruler of Møre, Raumsdal, and Thelemark. Raum's daughter is Bryngerd, wife of Alf of Alfheim.

Map of Norway
This map shows a host of the many petty Norwegian kingdoms in eighth and ninth century Scandinavia, most of them arranged along the coastline, although penetration into the interior is clearly beginning (click or tap on map to view full sized)

Hadding Haddingsson

Son.

c.830s - 840s

Over the course of his long reign, Halfdanr Svarti of Agder and Vestfold builds up an impressive list of conquests. He takes Sogn in the 830s, after the king's daughter, Ragnhild, becomes his first wife, and also mother to a boy named Harald. Ragnhild's father names the young Harald as his successor, but when all three pass away in succession, Halfdanr Svarti lays claim to the kingdom, and it is peacefully subsumed.

Högni Haddingsson 'the Red'

Son.

fl late 800s

Helgi Haddingjaskati

Son? 'Haddingjaskati' means 'lord of the Haddingjar'.

866 - 872

There is internecine war between the minor Norwegian kingdoms. Haraldr Hárfagri (or Harfarger) of Agder slowly becomes dominant, forcing the kingdoms to acknowledge his rule which, by 872, is complete. He starts his campaigns in 866 by visiting the Oppland and Orkadal. Then, in a series of battles, Gaulardal and Strind districts are conquered, followed by Stjoradal, and then Veradal, Skaun, the Sparbyggja district, and Eyin Idre together.

Haraldr Hárfagri and the giant Dofri
In his younger days, Haraldr Hárfagri ('Fairhair' or 'Fine Hair') cuts the bonds of the giant Dofri so that the giant can become his foster father in the Norse sagas - from the collection of Icelandic sagas, the Flateyjarbók

Some of their kings fall and some flee, but Haraldr is the victor. By 872 a final rebellion against him fails and all of the petty kingdoms are forced to join Haraldr's new kingdom of Norway.